Look around. It’s no secret that electronics have become an integral part of the human experience. From smartphones and automobiles to medical devices and exercise equipment, each device serves a vastly different purpose in our lives. Still, they share one similarity—they are all equipped with some electronic circuitry. These circuits are usually designed on a rigid or flexible printed circuit board (PCB)and integrated into various electronic devices. However, because of how electronic devices are used, they are especially susceptible to failure if exposed to contaminants such as dust particles, moisture, humidity, corrosive substances, and other foreign materials. Manufacturers and consumers both want the same thing: they want their products to last. In order to extend a product’s lifecycle, it is essential that its PCB must be well protected from exposure. Enter the conformal coating.
Conformal coating is one of the most commonly used methods for protecting electronic devices. The practice involves applying a liquid coating over a PCB, which then solidifies to become a thin protective barrier. Modern conformal coating equipment is designed to apply coatings onto the surface of an electronic assembly in a selective manner. Due to the electrically insulating properties of conformal coatings, the equipment is programmed to only coat desired areas of a PCB by accurately controlling the placement of the liquid to ensure proper coverage of components and solder joints while avoiding any connectors or contact points. Alternate applications can be run using a dip or bulk spray process where the entire PCB assembly is coated, but this requires the use of masking in order to keep coating off contact points. Masking involves using tapes, liquids, or specially designed fixtures to shield the PCB from the liquid as it is being applied. This process requires an operator to apply and or remove the masking materials.
An automated selective coating system is the ideal choice for medium-to-high volume production of PCBs where accuracy, repeatability, and minimal operator handling is required.